The History of Jazz

The History of Jazz

By (author) Ted Gioia

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Jazz is the most colourful and varied art form in the world and it was born in one of the most colourful and varied cities, New Orleans. From the seed first planted by slave dances held in Congo Square and nurtured by early ensembles led by Buddy Bolden and Joe 'King' Oliver, jazz began its long winding odyssey across America and around the world, giving flower to a thousand different forms - swing, bebop, cool jazz, jazz-rock fusion - and a thousand great musicians. Now, in The History of Jazz, Ted Gioia tells the story of this music as it has never been told before, in a book that brilliantly portrays the legendary jazz players, the breakthrough styles, and the world in which it evolved. From the rent parties of Harlem to the after-hours spots in Kansas City, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington to Wynton Marsalis and Pat Metheny, this book captures all the vibrant colours of jazz on one glorious palate.

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  • Paperback | 428 pages
  • 156 x 232 x 28mm | 680.39g
  • 01 May 1999
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 019512653X
  • 9780195126532
  • 234,934

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Author Information

Ted Gioia is a critic, historian, pianist, composer, and record producer living in Palo Alto, California. He is the author of The Imperfect Art, winner of the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award, and West Coast Jazz.

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Review quote

if you wanted to introduce someone to jazz with a single book, this would be a good choice. Kirkus Reviews

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Review text

Gioia, musician and critic, winner of the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award for The Imperfect Art (not reviewed) takes on a daunting task, tracing the history of jazz from pre-Civil War New Orleans to the embattled music of today - and does a creditable job of it. Jazz's history has been written by entirely too many mythographers and polemicists. Gioia, mercifully, spares us the myths and polemics. "The Africanization of American music," as he calls it, begins farther back in American history than New Orleans's aptly named Storyville red-light district around the turn of the century; he starts his narrative in the slave market of the city's Congo Square in 1819, and when it comes to Storyville, he offers hard facts to puncture the picturesque racism that finds jazz's roots in the whorehouses of New Orleans. Indeed, one of the great strengths of Gioia's account is the sociohistorical insights it offers, albeit occasionally as throwaway sidelights, such as his observation about drumming as an avatar of regimentation more than of freedom. He is particularly good in explaining how the music was disseminated and shaped by new technologies - the player piano, the phonograph, radio. He is also excellent at drawing a portrait of a musician's style in short brushstrokes. His prose is for the most part fluid and even graceful (although his metaphors do get a bit strained at times, as in his comparison of Don Redman's "jagged, pointillistic" arrangement of "The Whiteman Stomp" and the Heisenberg uncertainty principle). Although Gioia is much too generous to jazz-rock fusion of the '70s and '80s and probably gives more space than necessary to white dance bands like the Casa Loma orchestra, if you wanted to introduce someone to jazz with a single book, this would be a good choice. (Kirkus Reviews)

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